From severed fingers to slashed throats, wounds and burns, Renee ‘Tori’ Lewis does it all – with make-up that is. Lewis skills in gore make-up (theatrical make-up) has her Facebook page blowing up with all types of reactions from her fans and friends and with good reason too – her horror make up effects are so believable that you don’t have to be faint of heart to feel queasy or wince at the sight of the wounds she has produced. What Lewis does is in fact extreme and disgusting but also creative, gripping and mind-blowing all in the same thought. Recently Lewis took her skills to Harris Promenade in San Fernando, where she produced an entire crime scene complete with dead bodies oozing blood and real maggots. Her aim was not to scare the public into a cocoon but to get their genuine reaction towards her work and also as a platform to publicise her theatrical art.
Lewis’s profession as a make-up artist whose services are highly sort after for weddings and during Carnival has no formal training in theatrical make-up which is known in the movie or theatre industries as “SFX” which stands for Special Effects. It was her introduction to make-up artistry that peaked her interest in the gore element of her trade. Self-taught, Lewis learned from looking at pictures and using her imagination to create her own prosthetics and bruises and cuts on willing friends and family members. With Halloween upon us Lewis has the perfect platform to create her gory effects. She has equipped herself with industry standards make-up and is ready for the world of gore.
“I went to the public with my work really because of the nature of the shoot and also I decided that since I have been doing this kind of make-up for a while I should create a ‘crime scene’ using gore make-up. I wanted to see what reaction others would have towards this kind of make-up, since family and friends always seem to think it was real and not make-up. Over the years I have worried my family and friends with my work,” Lewis said. “My Mom hates to see it when I am done. She always said child you are going to scare yourself one day. What my mom said is true because as I got better at it and depending on the nature of my work at times I could get emotional and upset.
“I am not a horror movie fanatic, but I don’t mind a little horror movie from time to time. I pay close attention to the details of the make-up in the movies. It really is some creative stuff, despite how creepy it can get. I couldn’t afford the products that were needed to create Hollywood type of caring or wounds but the household products held out well and looked just as real. Now that I have the right products it has been out of this world,” Lewis said.
Lewis desires to work in Hollywood.
“I am not too sure about the survival of my skills in Trinidad; but I hope it can survive, the film industry here is booming but more in short films and theatre. Gore make-up is not requested that much in Trinidad, so my aim is really to further my artistry outside of Trinidad. When I started posting work of gore make-up on Facebook, people would ask me questions like, ‘Do you have a sick mind or something?’ and ‘why are you doing such things that are creepy?’ But I took the comments as compliments because it shows that what I do is making an impact and that is its purpose. You must be good enough to make an impact. My response to these questions is simple – Why do you watch movies? I don’t see being creative on such a level should be described as being ‘Sick’; it is what it is; it is really about creativity and art.
“When we went out to San Fernando we were successful in creating an impact. A driver ended up scraping his car on the pavement trying to see the crime scene. One woman came over and almost threw up; when she asked me why I was doing it she commended me on the fact that it looks real. When I told her I used real maggots etcetera she was like ‘Bye...I gone!’” Lewis said.
Lewis continues to learn and grow. “I am working on perfecting my art, which in turn will lead me to bigger adventures. I am working towards having my work used in films and theatre. I am definitely aiming for Hollywood!”
Lewis has created a lucrative niche market using her talent to create innovative Carnival make-up trends through her make-up artistry business, Je Vois Couleur (French for “I See Colour”) and is also in demand for weddings and special effects make-up for Halloween as well as children’s theme parties.